Celtic 1 - 1 St Johnstone

Match info: Scottish Premier at Celtic Park

Date: 11/11/2012 KO: 15:00 Ref: I Brines

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers


Tony Watt 51


St J'stone

Nigel Hasselbaink 77

FT (ht: 0-0)

  • Last Updated: November 11 2012, 19:12 GMT

Neil Lennon is looking for Scotland caretaker boss Billy Stark to make the national team a Celtic-free zone this week after claiming fatigue had caught up with his players in their 1-1 Clydesdale Bank Premier League draw with St Johnstone at Parkhead.

Neil Lennon stands silent before the game
Neil Lennon stands silent before the game

Substitute Tony Watt, on at the break for Miku, put the home side ahead in the 51st minute but Saints fought back and levelled in the 76th minute through Nigel Hasselbaink to leave the Hoops two points behind Hibernian at the top of the table, albeit with a game in hand.

With a game at Aberdeen next Saturday before a trip to Benfica in the Champions League the following week amid a relentless schedule, the Celtic boss is looking for Stark to leave Charlie Mulgrew and Kris Commons on the sidelines in the Luxembourg friendly on Wednesday night.

Hoops winger James Forrest was left out of Stark's squad with a hamstring complaint and skipper Scott Brown has been excused duty due to his ongoing hip complaint.

Lennon said: "I have spoken to Billy already but I might give him a call again. I don't know if Charlie is fit enough to go now after today, we will see how he is tomorrow.

"Billy understands and that's the reason Scott is not in the squad and James is obviously out. The two of them (Mulgrew and Commons) have been picked but does he really need to play them at this stage of the season?

"We have two Scottish boys, (Israel's Beram) Kayal, (Greece's Georgios) Samaras, (Kenya's Victor) Wanyama, I'm not sure about (Nigeria's Efe) Ambrose and Miku (Venezuela), the two Welsh boys (Joe Ledley and Adam Matthews) have a get-together in Cardiff, but in terms of players travelling halfway round the world to play a friendly I am pretty concerned about that.

"It's a great opportunity this week to give players rest, we haven't been able to do that for a month. It has been game after game.

"Aberdeen and Benfica are two monumental games, especially Benfica, and could shape our season.

"So why are these fixtures being played, we are only a month since the (World Cup qualifying) double-header?

"What are coaches going to find out from their players that they don't already know unless they want to blood new players?

"In the midst of all the games we have, this is the last thing I need or my players need."

The former Celtic captain, though, is not concerned with his side's recent SPL record which has seen them take two points from nine.

"I have been in worse positions than this," he said.

"We are two points behind with a game in hand and if we win the game in hand we are top of the league.

"Last year were 15 points behind. We have played considerably more games than any other team in the league, nine or 10 more and we are only into November.

"There was a flatness and lethargy but that's the amount of games catching up.

"After the Champions League group stages are over and we get a month or two of week-to-week football I think you will see the team get consistent and play with more energy than they are playing with after these games."

Saints boss Steve Lomas apologised to referee Iain Brines after being sent to the stand in the second half for complaining to the referee over his decision to let Watt back on after receiving treatment.

He said: "I have been into see Iain and I have apologised for my language but it is a highly emotional game and I would have been very unhappy if they had scored.

"He has been telling me the technical side of refereeing, neutral zones and this that and the other.

"The rule is he can't enter the field into an advantageous position.

"But he did, running down our wing unopposed to put a cross into the box, and if they had scored from that we would have felt very hard done by."

Saints stopper David McCracken had to be replaced after six minutes by Gary Miller after suffering a suspected broken cheekbone but the visitors defended with a degree of comfort for most of the game.

Indeed, Lomas insisted his side might have got more from the match had they been awarded a penalty when Celtic defender Ambrose challenged Saints substitute Gregory Tade at the edge of the box.

He said: "I thought the point was thoroughly deserved.

"I am sure all the talk will be about how Celtic performed poorly but I thought our players were superb.

"We stopped Celtic creating too many chances and created a few ourselves and I think some of the lads felt hard done by, they think it was a stonewall penalty so it could have been even better.

"It was a fantastic finish from Nigel. Frazer Wright took a hefty fall and was coughing up blood but wanted to stay on and that shows you the character of the lad. It would have been hard to lose two centre-halves."

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